Indispensable Housekeeping Books

Valuable Advice from Highly Respected Experts

There are excellent books that provide advice about the day-to-day management of your household. Other books provide more expert instruction about the care of important and historic collections.  Here is a brief selection:


Cheryl Mendelson is a Harvard educated lawyer and professor of Philosophy who has written an encyclopedic and authoritative book about managing your household and another about the way to launder your clothes and linens properly.

I refer to both regularly when in need of guidance.

Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

    • Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House
    • Laundry—The Home Comforts Book of Caring for Clothes & Linens


    Martha Stewart is without parallel in terms of expertise in all areas of managing one's home. She has written a wonderful book filled with practical housekeeping advice and gorgeous photography.

    Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook

    • Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home  


    The National Trust in the United Kingdom was founded "for the purpose of promoting the permanent preservation for the benefit of the nation and lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest and as regards lands for the preservation (so far as is practicable) of their natural aspect, features and animal and plant life.

    The National Trust was born of a desire to protect the elements of our environment that people value. Since its foundation in 1895 we have been caring for places of historic interest or natural beauty. Today these places include ancient stone circles, a cotton mill, gardens, villages, castles, country houses, works of art and libraries, historic landscapes, stretches of coastline, woods, farms, and important habitats for wildlife. Our fundamental purpose – to promote the long-term care of places of historic interest and natural beauty for the benefit of the nation – is set out in the National Trust Act of 1907."

    In 2011, the institution published an extraordinary book:

    Manual of Housekeeping by the National Trust

    •  The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping: Care and conservation of collections in historic houses in 2011

    The Trust's work is guided by strict principles of conservation noted in documents on its web site "The Conservation Principles were produced by the Central Conservation Directorate. Katy Lithgow, Head Conservator, led the project with her colleagues: David Adshead, Head Curator; Rory Cullen, Head of Buildings; and David Thackray, Head of Archaeology."

    These conservation principles are the basis of this brilliant book. It is an invaluable resource with extensive information about curatorial techniques, principles, practice, and ethics.

    W. H. Smith describes it as "essential reading for all those involved in the care of historic houses and their collections...and includes the very latest thinking on housekeeping theory and practice with detailed guidance."

    Amazon's description as follows:

    "This revised edition of the Manual of Housekeeping is essential reading for all those interested in the care of historic houses and their collections, and includes the latest thinking on housekeeping theory and practice.

    It gives detailed practical guidance on how to care for fragile interiors, maintain decorative fixtures and fittings, and display furnishings and objects within their historic context. In particular, this book highlights the ways in which preventive conservation measures can help reduce the need for expensive repair at a later date.

    It also explains how to strike the balance between the care and display of historic interiors and the provision for public access. Full of engaging insights into traditional and modern housekeeping techniques, the Manual explains how the nation’s treasure homes have survived until today, and champions their future preservation, using conservation science, professional advice, and environmentally sustainable methods and materials.

    Written by internationally renowned specialists and published by the National Trust, this book brings together many years of practical experience in the care of hundreds of historic houses and their collections."


    Christophe Pourny is a highly acclaimed expert in furniture restoration.  He was born and raised in the Var region of Southern France. Growing up in his parents’ antique store in Fayence made the love of furniture and artisanal technique second nature to him.

    His uncle, Pierre Madel was a legend with a global reputation. Christophe’s apprenticeship at his uncle’s shop on the Rue Jacob in Paris gave him the cosmopolitan experience he needed to prepare him for New York.

    Fifteen years ago Christophe moved to New York and opened his restoration studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The studio specializes in French polish, period finishes, antique restoration, & custom furniture production. The studio is proud to call some of the most talented interior designers in the industry clients. Christophe has also worked extensively on the restoration of City Hall, Gracie Mansion, & The Holy See Mission to The United Nations.

    Christophe’s work has been featured in Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, and he has been profiled on 1st dibs. He is also a featured guest on The Martha Stewart Show.

    Christophe has written a fantastic book which I highly recommend:

    • The Furniture Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Identify, Restore & Care for Furniture

    The Furniture Bible by Christophe Pourny

    Filled with beautiful watercolors and very practical "how to" photography, Christophe presents the history and development of fine furniture and illustrates how he refinishes pieces of museum quality.  In addition, he gives specific instructions about how to care for your fine furniture and additional step-by-step guidance for those who want to try furniture restoration at home.  A very valuable compendium of richly detailed advice.